Today is Bloodwitch‘s “book birthday”, so it seemed quite fitting to share my review of Susan Dennard’s newest book today! Bloodwitch is the third full-length novel in Susan Dennard’s New York Times bestselling, young adult epic fantasy Witchlands series. Bloodwitch continues with the story of the Bloodwitch Aeduan, though all readers’ favourite characters are back in action – including Safiya, Iseult, Ryber, Merik, Vivia, and more.
High in a snowy mountain range, a monastery that holds more than just faith clings to the side of a cliff. Below, thwarted by a lake, a bloodthirsty horde of raiders await the coming of winter and the frozen path to destroy the sanctuary and its secrets. The Bloodwitch Aeduan has teamed up with the Threadwitch Iseult and the magical girl Owl to stop the destruction. But to do so, he must confront his own father, and his past.
Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard undoubtedly lives up to its predecessors (Truthwitch, Windwitch, and novella Sightwitch) – really, Susan Dennard pulled out all the stops in her newest book. Picking up where Windwitch left off, Bloodwitch follows the ensemble cast introduced earlier in the series, with a focus on Aeduan, and this story is packed with page-turning action, gripping intrigue, character development, and powerful world-building.
Throughout this series, Dennard has built quite the ensemble cast, including Aeduan, Safiya for Hasstrel, Iseult det Midenzi, Merik and Vivia Nihar, Ryber Fortiza, Owl, and Kullen Ikray. Characters in this book get significant and well-deserved character development, especially Aeduan (understandably, as his story is central to this tale). Aeduan began this journey as a true enigma – a bounty hunter readers didn’t quite believe to be a villain. Bloodwitch delves deep into his story, and his past, enlightening readers to his motivations. Aeduan’s mysterious father is also finally revealed, unraveling a large piece of Aeduan’s story and of the political tapestry in the Witchlands. And don’t worry – Safiya’s story is also expanded, and readers get to see her continue to grow into a powerful and fearless young woman as she sets her feet on an impossible path. Meanwhile, Merik, Ryber, and Kullen (of should I say the Fury) finally clash, revealing quite a bit more about what Kullen has become, and just how far Merik is willing to go to save his Thread-brother. One character who didn’t develop as much as I may have hoped was actually Iseult – she got quite a lot of page-time in this one, but seemed to be playing host to Aeduan’s whims more than her own, which was somewhat disappointing. Despite that, the overall thought and development that went into the vast host of characters in Bloodwitch was astounding, rivaled only by similarly masterful high-fantasy authors, like George RR Martin.
Perhaps one of the most wondrous and note-worthy thing about Bloodwitch is the prowess with which Dennard plotted and told this tale. It’s fast-paced yet balanced, full of action while never forgetting emotion, and just an amazing adventure all around. The various point of views balance each other nicely, with their stories playing off one another (despite the distance between some of the characters). So often, it seems that authors use POV’s poorly, resulting in bland, unimportant chapters that readers skip – thankfully, Dennard does not seem to have a problem with this! In Bloodwith, more monotonous bits are balanced with action, and no one POV dominates any other – they’re all enjoyable, and more than that, they’re all important. Truly, the timeline/character switches don’t cause any reading problems; all the characters have compelling storylines that merge together and logically follow the emotion and plot arcs set up in previous books.
So, what are you waiting for? Unless (like me), you are snowed in, it is time to pick Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard up and get reading! This book is fast-paced yet balanced. It’s full of action while never forgetting emotion. It’s focused yet has a broad scope that leaves readers feeling as though they were there. And most importantly, it’s good (4/5).